Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Into the Badlands, Season 3, Episode 4: Chapter XX: Blind Cannibal Assassins

Introducing new shiny eye candy - Gaius Chau, brother of Baron Chau, imprisoned and beaten by Baron Chau because she doesn’t like him very much but won’t kill him while their mother is alive. She needs him to lead a squad to kill the Pilgrim because he destroyed their little outpost and she doesn’t need that nonsense. And if he doesn’t obey she’ll murder all the clippers loyal to him

He agrees but she knows the Pilgrim has two Dark Ones with him so how exactly Chau expects this to actually be achieved I don’t know

At the same time the Widow is concerned because a lot of fliers from the Pilgrim has scattered across her land and a whole lot of her workers have run off to seek the paradise of Asra. Since they’re already struggling with workers numbers that remains a problem. It also shows, again, that the Widow’s promise of being different doesn’t seem to follow reality given the large number of workers willing to leave so quickly.

Lydia and the Widow resolve to go see the Pilgrim, with Lydia gently convincing the Widow not to make another enemy while they’re already in the middle of a war.

There Cressida and Lydia talk faith, especially since Lydia’s mother was a man of faith. Cressida is clear that faith can be be used to control people, to keep them docile so they accept terrible lives in exchange for a better life in the afterlife. While Cressida’s faith offers a better life in Asra, here and now.

Lydia isn’t buying.

While the Widow and Pilgrim discuss change - what it will take to change this brutal world and he, rightly, says that people will need to change. The Widow clearly isn’t making changes using the same methods as those before and if she does, will her changes actually last past her death? He proposes using faith to change people

Which is when Gaius and his men attack - which is probably a good time because Cressida has already sent Nix off to go find a new Dark One since Caster is rapidly approaching his use by date (Nix isn’t thrilled by this) so only Caster is in residence. Except so’s the Widow so we get lots and lots of beautiful fight scenes with the Widow and Pilgrim carving a path through the enemy forces in a beautiful dance. Cressida and Lydia aren’t the same level but hold their own - and Gaius ends up fighting Caster. I say again, Caster seems considerably less powerful than MK was last season - Gaius lasts a long time against him while MK, when he went Dark One, was pretty unstoppable

Of course Gaius can’t win this fight and ends up wounded - but Caster then focuses on the Widow, attacking and only stopping because the Pilgrim steps in and says “Peace is With you” in his own language - and Caster falls, asleep and without his gift. The Widow is duly stunned while Pilgrim describes it as his own special ability.

They end with a bit of suspicion but a lot of mutual respect - and a mutual enemy. The Widow says she’s fine with him so long as he doesn’t recruit from her lands… I note he doesn’t actually agree to this.

MK was with Tilda and Odessa (who isn’t his fan) and Tilda is continuing the episode’s theme that they need to stop this. They need to move beyond the whole awfulness of murdering each other in constant cycles of violence. No more vengeance if they actually want the world to get better. MK says that’s cool, just as soon as he kills Sunny -and he leaves with Odessa happy to see him getting the hell away.

He dodges patrols and is badly injured and ends up being found by Nix.

While Sunny and Bajie find a blind man while looking for the woman who can heal his baby. I think the blind man is eleven times suspicious but they accept food from him anyway and are drugged unconscious

When they wake up Henry is missing and they track him to ominous tunnels full of blind warriors who have history with Sunny, unbeknownst to them. When he was a boy, a new clipper, these clippers betrayed their baron (and maimed Quinn’s son) so were blinded - and as a test of Sunny’s readiness to be a clipper they made him wield the knife against one. He tells the story to Bajie as part of the not-subtle lesson of this episode - the way of the Badlands is violence and the cycle has to end

They’re captured by the blind warriors and for added bonus the blind warriors are cannibals…. So yay (other sources of food in the area are tainted). Since Sunny has a child they make him an offer - be lunch or join them. Which includes a new diet and having their eyes burned out.

Yay, choices. Bajie does not like these choices

Sunny decides to tell one of the women that he was the one who cut out her eyes because he thinks she deserves to know and we’re still running that moral lesson HARD this episode. Bajie is not impressed

Nathaniel catches up with them (after going through the outpost Sunny helped, stabbing the commander because he dared to question why they were being slaughtered and abandoned - because the Widow is really changing things) and he is also drugged and captured.

Together and using Nathaniel’s hand and their boots Sunny frees himself and Bajie but when he offers to free Nathaniel, Nathaniel honestly replies that they will fight to the death with honour if he is released

Yeah, Bajie is unimpressed by his inability to lie and they leave him there while they fight and kill the many blind martial artists who are very good at posing. They kill them all except the woman who they offer to allow to join them. Instead she commits suicide since the man she loved and all her people are dead. And it’s all very much honour and respect and tragedy

Speaking of, they decide to release Nathaniel. Sunny tries to reason with him, pointing out how utterly ridiculous this whole endless chain of fighting and killing in the name of honour et al is. He gives Nathaniel his sword and adamantly refuses to fight: but he says if Nathaniel kills him he hopes Nathaniel will have the honour to recognise the obligation he owes Henry and will help him

This moves Nathaniel - because he wants Henry to have the opportunity his son (by Lydia?) didn’t have. The chance to know his father. And lo he finds something more important than honour. Something that means more than killing for the sake of killing which so defines the Badlands. It’s actually a really powerful scene because it does hold coherent with the theme of the rest of the episodes: the system needs to change for peace. From Tilda recognising how narrow her hatred of her mother is, to Sunny recognising the pointless cruelty of what he did as a young Clipper, to Nathaniel recognising a baby and his right to a family matter more than his arbitrary rules of honour. And all of this underscored by both the Widow’s failure to bring real change and the Pilgrim’s message - more than Cressida’s - people need to fundamentally change if they want this system to end

Either that or he really really hates changing nappies